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Fast Track to Aging Backwards

Fast Track to Aging Backwards

6 Ways and 30 Days to Look and Feel Younger
edition:Hardcover
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Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

AGING IS NOTINEVITABLE

As a child, I listened to the adults around me joke about getting old. I’d hear my young parents laughing about the fact that someday they’d need nurses and wheelchairs and endless medication. For my parents’ generation, loss of mobility, poor balance, chronic pain, hip, knee, and joint issues, and low energy were inevitable. They simply developed a cheerful acceptance: que será, será—whatever will be, will be.

They lived very active lives, skiing, swimming, and gardening. But even all ofthose athletic pursuits wouldn’t be enough to halt and turn back the aging clock. They didn’t yet know (nobody yet knew!) that the weakness, immobility, and lethargy associated with aging are not normal; what is normal is to remain vibrant, active, and pain free well into our senior years. They didn’t know that a few simple actions couldhelp them remain pain free and youthful.

Back then, no one understood that if you didn’t use muscles, they’d atrophy, your tissues would start to congeal, and movement would become stiff and painful. And unquestionably it would have been taboo to suggest that doing the wrong kinds ofexercise would rapidly age the body.

Now we know differently! With the benefit of several decades of research, weknow that inactivity—or the wrong kind of activity—isexactly what ages us fastest. And we know that we can turn back the clock just by learning how to move all of the muscles, connective tissue, and joints in our body.

When I was younger, I embraced my parents’ attitude about aging. I assumed that I’d age in just the same negative ways as the generations who had gone before me. Well, something unexpected happened instead.

I didn’t get older; I got younger.
I didn’t get weaker; I got stronger.
I didn’t develop more pain; I became pain free.

After suffering from broken bones, cancer, and all kinds of other medical issues, I’m now approaching seventy and I’m healthier and fitter than ever.

Much to my excitement, I recently literally ran up the 120-step Coba pyramid in Mexico and then I skipped down, not needing to hold on to the rope railing for aid. Despite their youth (all of my staff is under forty), some of the youngest members ofmy team struggled to navigate the steep, scary steps.

How is this possible?

I’ve spent years researching aging, and I know that aging happens only when we letit happen. When you move the right way, you have the ability to age backwards—to reverse stiffness and “stuck” tissue; get the juices flowing in your body; build strength, agility, and vitality—and stay young and limber for a very long time.

Now I also know how to jump-start the results more quickly than ever before.

THE FAST TRACK

My love of movement inspired the start of my career at age ten. That’s when I joineda professional ballet school. Later, I became a full member of the company of the National Ballet of Canada. After breaking my foot in seven places, at age twenty-one,Iretired from the stage and opened a dance and fitness center.

For a long time, I was on the hunt for the perfect fitness program for my clients:
something that would help them build long, lean, ballet-dancer-shapedmuscles; thatwasn’t as high impact as aerobics but equally strengthening; that could be done to classical,international, and modern music; and that was safe. I noticed too many of myclients experiencing injury and pain from the then-current high-intensity workout trends. When I couldn’t find a suitable program, I decided to create one myself. (Yoga and Pilates weren’t widely available yet.) The Essentrics fitness program is the resultof many years of experimentation, scientific research, and fine-tuning. Designed to be done daily, by anyone, from cradle to grave, Essentrics is a simultaneous stretching and strengthening program to rebalance the full body in just 30 minutes a day. It is thebasis for the popular television program Classical Stretch, which first aired on PBS in1999 and continues to reach millions of Americans daily.

Since then, I’ve spent many years teaching, researching, and tweaking the fitness technique. I’ve worked with thousands of clients all over the world and have seen the dramatic and permanent changes in strength, weight, and body shape that people experience when they use Essentrics. Perhaps at no time are the improvements in appearance, health, and fitness more apparent than at my retreats.

Participants in my retreats range from age thirty to eighty. Many have lost hopefor a healthy life due to years of rapid aging and chronic pain. At the start of a retreat, some participants show up in a state of depression, having silently given up on a betterfuture. “This is normal aging,” their doctors have said while prescribing joint replacement surgery or medication.

Over the course of seven days, including twice-daily exercise classes of 30 minute seach, I’ve watched as participants literally grow younger before my eyes. The changes are immediate: their skin starts to glow, the tension of chronic pain lifts from their brows, light shines in their eyes, their backs straighten, and their limbs move more fluidly.They feel real hope, many for the first time in years. Anne Legasse, age fifty-five, arrived thinking she might not be alive in ten years because of her health problems. Now she says she “can see my older self living to be a hundred like my grandfather did because I’m getting stronger every day.” Le Rowell told me the retreats have been “a gift for aging well.” At eighty-three, she is “standing tall, reaching those top shelves,and getting up and down with ease.

”Watching these participants, I thought it didn’t seem fair that only attendees learned how to permanently turn their lives around in such an accelerated way. I wanted to bring what made the retreats so effective to the widest possible audience and give everyone the same chance for a younger life. To do so, I knew I needed to create a program that:
• provides a simple starting point, a clear schedule, and a foolproof path.
• explains the breakthrough science behind the results.
• incorporates the most up-to-date science-based tools and strategies to makethe program even more effective and the results stick, including the latest research on the power of slowness and visualization.
• allows you to see and feel improvement and track your progress.
• offers clear, achievable goals that encourage you not to miss a day.
• includes novelty to keep your interest and motivation high.
• transforms your total body and turns your aging process around immediately, no matter what specific condition or issue you may currently be living with.
• is designed to help you develop a daily habit of regular exercise.

Providing a clear structure, step-by-step guidance, and a 30-day incentive, the Fast Track plan is unlike any other program I’ve created. What you hold in your handscombines all of the elements present during the hundreds of retreats I’ve conducted, the thousands of classes I’ve taught, and the intense research I’ve done to integrateknowledge and movement into an easy-to-follow formula that will help you reverse unpleasant signs of aging such as stiffness, chronic pain, arthritis, and exhaustion while setting you on a path to feeling youthful for the rest of your life. Almost immediately,you’ll start to enjoy real results:
• Improved posture
• Better balance
• Loose, supple joints
• Relief from chronic pain in your knees,hips, back, feet, shoulders, and hands
• Increased flexibility
• Renewed energy

You may be thinking, Miranda, if the participants in your retreats start to experience profound results in just 7 days, why is the Fast Track program for 30 days? Well, I’ve noticed that for some people, the sudden and significant changes they experience are enough to motivate them to continue exercising daily and keepgrowing younger and healthier. Others would return home, and despite the verybest of intentions, would slowly slack off until they stopped exercising altogether. Watching this happen and hearing from other clients struggling to keep up a daily practice, I wanted to create a program that would motivate people to continue foryears, never stopping.

There’s been a lot of research on how long it takes to form a new habit and studies have shown it can take anywhere from 21 days to more than 2 months for a new behavior to become effortless and second-nature—something you fall into as naturally as brushing your teeth. Working with my clients, I’ve found that 30 days is just theright amount of time to set you up for a lifelong habit of daily exercise and give you the kind of life-changing results to make you look forward to it. And it’s only 30 days—a month! Like a lot of people, I’m very goal oriented. Hopefully you are, too. The Fast Track program is designed to make great progress in a month—andit works. Give the program those 30 days. I know you can do it and you’ll be glad that you did.

Fast Track Is For You

Nothing has been more fulfilling in my life than watching and hearing about people whose lives have been turned around through regular correct movement. The FastTrack plan is for everyone—youngor old, athletic or sedentary. It is for complete newcomers and for those who are already familiar with my work. Perhaps you’ve taken anEssentrics class, seen my PBS specials, or read one of my books. I’ve designed the FastTrack plan to offer you tremendous new benefits as well.

Newcomers

Welcome! The Fast Track is the perfect place for you to start aging backwards. Don’tworry about the exercise! When you’re doing the right exercises correctly, exercise will feel good, both while you’re doing it and afterward. Newcomers often tell methat they started feeling good the moment they start the exercises. Even people who said they hated exercising told me that their bodies seemed to be saying, “More, more, more!”

What surprises people most is that often they don’t feel any muscle soreness after exercise, and if they do, it is mild. This tends to be very different from their previous experiences. Soreness is not a sign that you’ve done a great workout! Actually, soreness is a sign that your body is being forced to do something beyond its level of strength or flexibility. If you give your body a chance to develop strength and flexibility by workingat your level, you will advance much faster.

Another cause of regular soreness after exercising is that few workouts are designed to rebalance the full body. The Fast Track workouts, on the other hand, are designedto fully rebalance the body and to prevent pain. Rebalancing the body is one of the basic principles of these workouts. Essentrics is about never, ever being in pain; it’s about respecting and honoring your body and listening to its very important messageof pain. Be patient and don’t push your body into an injury. Let’s discard the tired old maxim “No pain, no gain” and substitute a new one: “No pain!”

The Fast Track plan aims to find the perfect balance of enough, but not too much, exercise. If you wish to have a strong, mobile, pain-freebody, then the path to achieving that goal is through moderation, not extremes. Exercising in moderation requires intelligence, knowledge, and discipline. In this book, you will learn why your body reacts badly to the extremes of either too much or too little exercise. Contrary to our usual view that moderation is mediocre, moderation in exercise is actually the only path to a pain-free active long life. Overexercising often leads to chronic pain, injury, and rapid aging, as does underexercising. Moderation will keep you youthful and vibrant no matter what your age.

Thanks to moderation, I feel younger, more energetic, and fitter at sixty-nine than I did in my twenties and thirties when I was a professional ballerina and aerobics instructor.

Friends

I hope you’ve already experienced the amazing benefits of Essentrics. Perhaps you’ve tried some of my age-reversing workouts from my first book, Aging Backwards, or my pain-relieving workouts in Forever Painless. Over the years, readers and clients have shared their incredible successes with me, as well as their challenges. One of the biggest is maintaining motivation. The Fast Track plan is my reply: a turn key program that offers accelerated benefits, total body transformation, and my most time-tested strategies to keep you motivated.

In Fast Track, you’ll find:
• A kick-start to get you back into a regular exercise routine. If you’ve taken abreak from daily movement, for whatever reason, Fast Track will get you backon track—and help you stay there.
• Ways to push through an Essentrics plateau. Are you regularly doing an Essentrics workout but don’t feel you’re seeing improvement? (Though youmay not feel it, if you are doing the movements correctly, you are!) Usethe Fast Track to refresh your routine and the large, complex movements torecharge your body and brain.
• New total body workouts. These workouts are completely new and they are not condition specific. No matter what your health goals or if you have an achy shoulder, stooped posture, or lower back pain, these workouts providea complete reboot. Your whole body will feel better. I know that many folks turn to my workouts to ease a particular ache or pain, and when it’s gone, theystop doing the exercises. If this is you, please know that Essentrics is of benefit to you always, every day, even if you’re feeling good and pain free. Try these workouts and experience how much better you can still feel.
• New tools to amplify the power of these and all of my other workouts so yousee results faster. These include the questionnaire I use with my clients tohelp you remember your body’s history, discover the root causes of the painor discomfort you’ve been feeling, and enable you to “go back in time” andfinally heal. There are also visualization prompts with each exercise to help you perform them better and boost your brain health.
• Methods to maintain your motivation, for these 30 days and beyond. I know it can be a challenge. I’ve included my most effective strategies to keep youinspired. The results are the best motivation!

This book can be used as a reference for many years to come. I hope you turn to itagain and again, both to explain changes that may be happening to your body and asan exhilarating guide to the life-changingpotential of the Essentrics approach.

LET’S GET MOVING

In the first section of the book, “Grow Younger Now: The Six Ways to Fast Track Aging Backwards,” I’ll share the program’s secret sauce. It has taken me decades of research and working with scientists and students to identify the ways to make age reversal smarter, faster, and more effective. Understanding why these six ways are essential and how they work serves two purposes: motivating you to do the exercises each day and making the program more powerful.

Experience has shown me that the only way to motivate a person to commit toregular exercises is to give him or her a reward. I’d like you to consider the solid scientific proof supporting each of these ways your reward. I’ve witnessed the light in theeyes of my retreat participants as they grasp the science behind what was causing their aging, their pain, their arthritis, and their sedentary habits. Knowledge is a powerful motivator. Once you understand how your body works, why correct exercise is the only permanent way to reverse aging, and how you can easily and effortlessly make ita part of your daily life, you will become excited and motivated to exercise. You’ll feel confident knowing that the exercise will pay off and reverse the signs of aging. With that assurance, you’ll look forward to doing 20 to 30 minutes a day of exercises.

In addition to explaining the science behind the six ways, I explain how to use the science while doing the exercises to improve your results. Science remains theoretical until it is brought to life, in this case through movement. I’ll show you how to put thetheory into practice.

All of the six ways must be in place for the program to work. They are designed towork together, and so half measures or modifications don’t work. If you don’t follow all six of the ways, you will not age backwards at all but very likely age forwards. I’ve designed the program to make this effortless and easy for you. Just follow the program as written, paying particular attention to the instructions in the workouts, and you’ll be incorporating all six ways to reverse the common signs of aging and become morevibrant, active, and pain free.

I have packed this plan with as many tools as possible to help you succeed, and the questionnaire in chapter 8, “Know Your Body: What’s Your Aging Story?” is one ofthe most powerful. It’s always surprising to me how often people misremember their medical history. It’s common to disassociate your past health issues from your presentaging process. The questionnaire will help you to acknowledge old pains and injuries so that you can progress forward to a new vibrant life. You have to fix what is wrong,if it is still causing a problem, in order for you to be free to move forward. If you don’t know the original cause of your discomfort, it is much harder to fix it. This questionnaire will help. Please don’t skip it.

Chapter 9, “Before You Begin: Set Yourself Up for Success,” will tell you everything you need to do to prepare for the workouts.

Now to the workouts.

There are two different levels:

1. The Fast Track 30-Day Starter Workout for what I call beginner-beginners, in chapter 10. This workout is for people who self-describeas being in poor physical condition or are recovering from an injury. If you’ve been struggling with chronic pain, haven’t exercised for some time, or consider yourself to bein really poor shape, the Starter Workout is the smart place to begin. Try this level for 30 days and stay on it as long as you’re comfortable. Some folks stayhere for a long time, until they’re ready to try the Core Workouts.

2. The 30-Day Fast Track Core Workouts for active adults in chapter 11 are for everyone else. If you are reasonably active, these workouts will be appropriate for you.

If you are unsure of your level of fitness, try the Starter Workout first, and if you find it too easy, go directly to the Core Workouts in chapter 11.

The Starter Workout is aimed primarily at the lubrication and release of congealed fascia, immobile ligaments, and tight muscles. It’s a workout that is very easy on the body, so much so you might even wonder if anything is actually changing. The answer is yes, yes, yes. Your muscles and fascia will be gently hydrated with no possibility of any injury. The inside of your body is changing radically, and that’s what counts.

The Core Workouts are comprised of three 10-day workouts. Each workout is divided into two parts. The first part consists of standing and chair exercises for full-body stretching and strengthening (30 minutes) and the second part is floor exercises for toning (15 minutes). The first part of stretching and strengthening is compulsory.The second part, for toning, is optional. Never skip the first part of each workout.

The Core Workouts are full-body workouts designed to safely unlock your body, step by step. The 10-day workouts proceed progressively, each building on the gains of the one before it.

Don’t be deceived by the simplicity and seeming ease of these workouts. They may seem easy to do, but at the end of a month, you will find yourself with a spring inyour step, feeling more energetic and stronger than you have in years. The deliberate, careful tempo we emphasize lubricates fascia, increases flexibility, and loosens blocked scar tissue that interferes with your ability to move through the natural muscle chains of your body. Once the natural muscle chains are liberated, strengthening muscles becomes much easier. You will be amazed at how rapidly your energy, strength, andvitality improve.

I’ve also provided 8 mini-workouts that I recommend you sprinkle like little jewels throughout your day. Not only will they boost your Fast Track results and generally keep your body limber and supple, they’ll get you into the habit of viewing everyday life as an opportunity to move. Remember, movement is the signature of youth, so move, move, and move some more! I do these mini-workouts constantly throughout my day, wiggling my hands, fingers, toes, and shoulders. The more I move, the better I feel. The more I sit, like I am doing right now as I type, the stiffer and more uncomfortable I feel in my hips, shoulders, and back. So I do these mini-workouts and instantly feel much better.

When I was creating the Fast Track program I wanted to be sure to include waysfor you to “see” and mark your progress in a meaningful way. It’s so motivating and empowering to record, in black and white, how far you’ve come. The assessments in chapter 13, “Mark the Change: Celebrate Your Progress on Day 1, Day 15, andDay 30,” will make you feel as though you have your own personal trainer watching over you and celebrating your progress with you.

TIME TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOREVER

The Fast Track plan offers a new way of living, a new way of understanding, and a new way of perceiving the full potential of our physical bodies. I am so grateful to havebeen able to share what I have learned with you. I know that if you follow the 30-day program, your life will change forever. Mine did!

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